Monday, June 30, 2014

Wines for the Fourth of July

By Liza B. Zimmerman

The 4th is all about grilling, eating outside and picnicking. The food and wine festivities can go in a couple of different directions, so here are a few suggestions. If you go with the classic meat route, you will want some big, spicy reds. They could range from Cabernet Sauvignons to Zins and even Syrahs these days.

Big meaty Cabs like Charles Smith’s “Chateau Smith” will fit the bill. Walla Walla Cabs have some inky, dusty notes—from the hot days—that can make them excel with grilled meats. L’Ecole 41 is another gem from the same area. Warwick Estate also makes some beautiful wines from the Cape.

Sobon Estate’s Zins from Amador County are amazing and a bargain.  They are also supremely balanced, which you don’t always get in regions with such hot days. When I taught wine education at no longer existent Copia wine center in the Napa Valley, we always used the Fiddletown as an example of an exceptional Zin.

Walla Walla, sorry to be repetitive about one of my favorite regions, may make even better Syrahs than it does Cabernets. Reynvaan is a great producer. Don’t forget that the South Africans also jam when they make Syrahs, such as Nederburg. They even mix the grape up, with great success, in some of their blends. A handful of Sonoma Coast Syrahs might be big, and full bodied enough to stand up to BBQ. I love the Rhônes but they are probably, in great part, too subtle to do the job.


A Little Fish on the Grill
Not every BBQ needs to feature meat. Cooking up a little salmon or searing a great tuna, on the grill also works. If you live in a city, as I do, you can broil those babies to crispy perfection without a lot of oil and fuss as well.

The Oregon Pinots have the acidity, and often lightness of body, to pair with but not overwhelm a fish. Eyrie is a great producer and A to Z is an amazing bargain for delicious wine. If you want to get a little creative with your pairings, go for elegant northern Italian reds. Barbera is divine, in my book, with almost everything. If you want to step it up a notch Produttori del Barbaresco is one of the best producers in Piedmonte. It has stunned the world again and again with its beautifully consistent wines despite having the somewhat negative stigma of being a cooperative. Above I am enjoying a little piece of heaven in a visit a few years ago to the cooperative’s Piedmonte headquarters with my best friend Tony Raftopol.

Create Your Own Picnic
For decades in New York my family had Fourth of July celebrations in Central Park. The year it rained we ate in the hallway and drew ants on pieces of paper that were scattered all over the blanket (it might have been even more fun!).

My mother’s best friend always made lobster salad. It was beautifully composed and a delight to eat: although not always so easy with plastic forks. As the intrepid wine writer in the family I always organized the wine pairings. It was a decade or so of bubbles, bubbles, bubbles and some high-acid whites. Prosecco, and Cava, as well as Loire sparklers are affordable solutions to the Champagne quandary. You can also pretend that Gruet is French as it looks, and almost tastes, the part. A bit of a creamy Chardonnay or an Albariño would also be divine.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Shock of Discovery Fizz Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I’m not known as a vodka drinker, but occasionally I’ve been known to sip small quantities of this often misunderstood, neutral grain spirit.  You’ll note that I said grain.  Most vodka is indeed distilled from grain.  That’s too bad, because the vodka that I drank growing up was made from potatoes, imported from either Sweden or Russia.

It wasn’t until the last decade or so that I finally discovered the difference between grain and potato vodka.    There is also vodka made from whey and another great favorite of mine, Barr Hill, made from fermented raw honey.  But I digress.  Truth is, there are very few vodkas on the market that I look for.  Or thirst for.  Until now. 

Of course every one of my personal rules are meant to be broken, especially with a new brand to these shores from London, England.  UK 5, Organic Vodka has caught my eye.  Perhaps the ingredients, being USDA Certified Organic are important to me, this example is made from Organic German Rye. 

Of course the price is very reasonable at DrinkupNY… It’s not priced like some of the boutique offerings from around the world.  This one is under thirty dollars per bottle and it’s well worth your hard earned money!

I’ve experimented with many different varieties of vodka and I find for cocktails, the ones made from rye are most forgiving for both the amateur mixologist and the behind the stick professionals.  Rye vodka has a spicy and zesty nose, a crisp finish and oodles of aromatics that fill your memories. 

UK 5 is also Vegan, if you follow those trends…

UK 5 vodka tastes wonderful over a large cube of homemade ice or crafted into mixology level cocktails.  I prefer the latter because if you want to drink it straight up, you won’t need to do anything to it.  But if you want to learn how to mix it up a bit, keep reading- because I have a recipe that will stimulate your appetite and quench your thirst. 

I’m a huge fan of Sorel, the next ingredient in my brilliant, summer refresher. Sorel is handmade by my friendJackie Summers in Brooklyn, NY.  It is chock-full of Caribbean islands flavors:  Cloves, Cassia, Ginger Hibiscus, Cane Sugar and organic New York grain alcohol for a bit of a buzz.The combination of Sorel and UK 5 vodka is the beginning of this pre-soda pop refresher, set firmly in the modern context. 

Shrubs or what are known as drinking vinegars are quite delicious in the warm summer months because they provide refreshment without artificial ingredients.  Just like the UK 5 vodka is made with all organic ingredients, drinking vinegars are also made without preservatives or chemicals.  I suggest one that anyone can make, not just former cooks like myself.  This Shrub is as easy as opening a bottle of organic sour cherry preserves and adding a portion of robust, balsamic vinegar.  It only takes a couple of hours to set the flavors before using.  I’m thrilled to tell you that a “shrub in a hurry” is a great way of quenching your thirst when you are short on time or you’re really on Island Time.

The Cherry Shrub
Ingredients:
2 oz. Organic Sour Cherry Preserves
2 oz. Balsamic Vinegar

Prep:
Combine Organic Sour Cherry Preserves with the Balsamic Vinegar, stir together to combine in a non-reactive bowl
Let sit at room temp for a few hours, covered and then force through a sieve
The remaining liquid is your fast Shrub

The combination of UK 5 vodka, Sorel, the sour cherry preserves in a fast Shrub and a final application of Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters is a very refreshing drink that will keep you coming back for more.  With or without the alcohol, this drink says refreshment. 

The Shock of Discovery Fizz
Ingredients:
2 oz. UK 5 Organic Vodka
1 oz. Sorel Liqueur
1 oz. Sour Cherry Shrub
2 oz. Seltzer Water (Unflavored)
2-3 shakes Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
Twist of lemon zest

Prep:
Add a couple handmade cubes of ice to a large Burgundy wine glass
Rub the rim with your lemon zest and drop into the glass
Add the UK 5 vodka along with the Sorel and top with seltzer, stir
Dot across the top with the Bitter Truth Bitters for good digestion!

Serve!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys. His first book, Apothecary Cocktails has been nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Celebrating Ceviche

By Liza B. Zimmerman

While much of this month’s buzz may be focused on Brazil and the World Cup, one of its neighbors is poised to celebrate an important, new culinary holiday. June 28th is National Ceviche Day in Peru. While this delicious dish of raw fish, sometimes served with octopus with onions and corn kernels, is savored all over the world, few know how to do it like the Peruvians.

The bulk of my one trip to Peru was focused on ingesting as much fresh fish as possible. And these folks know how to serve fish in every color of the rainbow. While the Peruvians are more likely to drink a Pisco Sour—Barsol is one of my favorites—with ceviche, there are quite a few wines that will do it justice.

Traditional Pairings
The acidity in this dish can be notoriously hard to pair with wine. Great pairings are generally ones of equals—such as foie gras and Sauternes—or opposites. I will start with the logical, balanced pairings. Since the dish is Latin American in origin, and beloved everywhere from beachside resorts in Mexico to trendy restaurants in Santiago, Chile, it makes sense to start with Latin wines.

Spanish Albariño, with its crisp acidity and sea salt aromas, is divine with all types of ceviche. In fact it is one  of  manager Oscar Davila’s favorites at La Mar in San Francisco. Please see my recent coverage in the SOMM Journal for other of Oscar’s pairing suggestions. The multi-location Peruvian restaurant is the brainchild of chef Gaston Acurio, whose flagship restaurant in Lima is where I first gorged myself on this dish.

Since Peru doesn’t make notable wines, its neighbor Chile’s Sauvignon Blancs are a great pick. The two countries would fight each other to the bitter end about where the “real” Pisco hails from, but Peru will have to concede to Chile on the wine front. While I am on the Latin theme I will push the envelope and say that a handful of Italian wines: such as high-acid whites from Piedmont or Friuli would also fit the bill.

The Wildcards
Sometimes opposites just attract. I will never forget when Mario Maccioni, the oldest son of Sirio Maccioni and Le Cirque fame, told me he sometimes loved an oaky Chardonnay with a good steak. The beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

The acid levels in ceviche, particularly when guests add an extra squirt of lime, can flatten the acidity in cool-climate whites. So, on occasion, a broad—somewhat maderized white—such as some of the Rhône varietals, such as Marsanne and Roussanne are superb. These could be French or even made in California or Australia.

An unoaked Chardonnay, made in Argentine- or Washington State-style might also work. White Burgundy without a doubt goes with everything.

The only time I would go red with a ceviche dish might be to pair some of the new Asian-inspired takes on the dish that have intense soy soil, ginger and red pepper-inflected flavors. A cool climate red—such as a Patagonia Pinot Noir, which was Oscar’s suggestion—or a Beaujolais Cru or Loire red might just work.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Making cocktail with Speyside Single Malt Scotch whisky

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I know what you are going to say when I recommend making a cocktail that includes absolutely brilliant Speyside Single Malt Scotch whisky.  There will be rebellions, men will march against their neighbors and your supply of whisky at the pub may be cut off.  

When you make this cocktail you may want to keep the recipe to yourself.

I’ve learned much recently about Scotch whisky.  Maybe much of it has to do with my second book being published in October from Fair Winds Press, named Whiskey Cocktails.  Working with so many gorgeous bottles of whiskey stimulated my thirst for this most evocative liquor. 

Please don’t get upset with me when I say that cocktails can include single malt Scotch whisky.  My recipe is so easy to make, using ingredients that DrinkupNY.com has in their larder, waiting for the eager click of your mouse.

I get really excited when I think about Scotch in a cocktail and this brand named Speyburn does everything correctly.  Speyburn is lush, easy to drink and finds itself very mixable.  Maybe that’s because of the used Bourbon casks?  I would think so.

The vanilla notes are quite pronounced and they complement other ingredients. Because whisky is such a pleasurable drink, I couldn’t resist mixing it with both honey simple syrup (1:1 boiling water to raw honey- then cool) and something unique from America’s Oldest Distillery, Laird’s Bottled in Bond, 100 Proof- Apple Brandy.  A few drops of Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters and a touch of aged Balsamic Vinegar add a citrus laced, savory finish. 

Balsamic vinegar is the secret ingredient in this drink that includes flavors from both sides of the pond and a visit to Italy at the same time.  It is not a shaken drink- those armies will start rattling their swords if you even think about shaking a drink with Scotch and Apple Brandy.   This drink is mixed in a beaker.  Repeat after me.  Do not shake this drink.  Do NOT shake this drink.

The other secret ingredient is a dose of grilled pineapple juice for an east meets west approach to thesedisparate ingredients. Just a touch brings out the sweetness in the Lairds and also accentuates the light smokiness to the Scotch.  The inner sweetness vs. the char of the pineapple juice makes for intrigue and confusion.  I like both things because anything less is just too predictable.  Too easy to understand and decipher my inner meaning to cocktailian pleasures.  Like day drinking, you just have to do it for a few years (or decades) to understand how beguiling a Ramos Gin Fizz can be at lunch.  Or how a Milk Punch at breakfast is better than Tennessee Sipping Whiskey on your cereal.   Take it from me.  I’m a professional.  Hand me my bag please.  Inside you’ll find an array of bitters from Bitter Truth in Germany.  Just like I utilize my photography with a German Leica, I turn to Bitter Truth for that precision of flavors.  Lemon Bitters add a jolt of citrus along with the savory qualities of the medicinal herbs and spices.  How did I know this?  I figured out early in my writing career that taste in a well balanced cocktail is very simple, just like being a saucier- something I did before becoming a banker. 

It’s remarkable how Speyburn Highlands Scotch whisky combines with the grilled pineapple juice; honey simple syrup, Laird’s Bottled in Bond Apple Brandy and a quick injection of Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters. 

What should I call this drink of great sophistication? 

What Shall I say of Clarisse?

Ingredients for two persons or one really thirsty person
2 oz. Speyburn Single Malt Scotch Whisky
2 oz. Laird’s Bottled in Bond Apple Brandy (100 Proof)
2 oz. Grilled Pineapple Juice (grill pineapple spears over fire & juice)
½ oz. Balsamic Vinegar
½ oz. Raw Honey Simple Syrup (1:1 ratio, boiling water to raw honey-cool)
2-3 dashes Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters

Beaker
Ice
Chilled Coupes – ice and water, then spill out

Fill Beaker with ice to ¾

Add all the ingredients and stir about fifty times
Strain with a Hawthorne Strainer into two pre-chilled coupes
Dot with the lemon bitters to finish

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys. His first book, Apothecary Cocktails has been nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Getting to Know Your Local Wine Shop

By Liza B. Zimmerman

I do a lot of wine education for people from all kinds of wine backgrounds. Many say they buy highly rated wines or belong to wine clubs as they don’t know how to choose what they want in a wine shop. I say take the matter into your own hands and create your own scoring system based on what you love to drink. You don’t have to pay for the big brands advertising and marketing budget: but you do have to shop at a good wine store.

Most of us also need to learn a little bit of wine speak: do you actually like sweet wines or just the perfume coming off of those big, fruity reds? Terms like body, acid and style are important. Try to jot down what you know that you like. Favorite grapes are a plus as well; while they can be produced very differently all over the world they do retain their varietal characteristics.

Practical Points
Don’t be afraid to mention price points. We all have a comfort level about what we want to spend on an
evening in, or out. Fewer of us are embarrassed about sharing that since the economy took at dip six years ago. If you were in a restaurant you could point with your finger to the type of wine you would like, at the right price point, and the sommelier would oblique.

At retail, just tell the salesperson what you would like to spend per bottle. Ten or even $15 should get you some nice wines. If you have a particular passion for a region or a grape, don’t be afraid to ask for the buyer of wines from that area. They really known the region and will probably be delighted to talk to you.

Have your wine shop put together a mixed case for you, ideally of somewhat similar wines at close price points. Go home and taste them and note what you like and don’t. When you have your wine speak on go back and tell your new friend what you like and don’t and why. If he or she totally failed you, you may need to change salesperson or store.

You can also do all of this on the phone in the comfort of your home. Going into a store is great when you already have a sense of what you like, but might be overwhelming initially.

See my ABC coverage of how to buy great wines at retail, filmed in San Francisco: Click Here

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

An Ardent Dreamer Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

I’m thrilled when a bartender knows what I’m talking about when I ask for Aperol.  Usually I receive a blank stare or worse- a nod towards Campari or some other red colored aperitif. 

Not that Campari is bad, far from- it’s just much different than Aperol. 

First of all, Aperol has less alcohol than Campari, making it the perfect summer quaff at about 12% by volume for Aperol, instead of the 25% of Campari. 

Campari is more assertively flavored- making Aperol a lighter approach to the term bitter aperitif.  You see, bitter is a good thing.  Aperol is made up of licorice, fennel, aniseed, popular buds, bitter clover, wormwood, valerian, gentian, bitter orange, cinchona bark and rhubarb.

The ingredients in Campari are similar- but secret and this article is not about Campari, but it is about Aperol!   Made by the same company as Campari, Aperol is altogether different.  First of all there is more sugar in Aperol, although the drinker may not recognize the sweetness in the drink, because the bitter herbs balance the sweetness.  I am a huge fan of Aperol and I use it often in my refreshing summer cocktails.

Greenhook Ginsmiths is located in Greenpoint, NY. I love what they have achieved in the gin world by the quality of their ingredients.  Brothers, Stephen and Philip DeAngelo have revolutionized the old fashioned technique of making gin.  They use a low temperature vacuum to remove all the excess air from the distillation process allowing for a more gentle approach to the finished product. 

I’m not a scientist, but I will say that the vacuum distillation makes a softer gin- less harsh and definitely not cloying.  I remember meeting the brothers a couple years ago at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic and I immediately became an ardent supporter of their craft.

Freshly squeezed juices are a necessity in my cocktails and in my day-to-day drinking pleasure.  There really is no excuse to use concentrated fruit juices or powdered juices in cocktails.  My drinks NEVER call for bottled orange, lemon, grapefruit or lime.  It’s just not done!  You should always make every attempt at using the very best ingredients that you can find for your drinks- after all it’s your money!  Why cover up great liquor with artificial ingredients?  Even the 900-pound gorilla, Tropicana juice is pasteurized, giving your cocktail a flat, listless experience.  You may not notice- and that’s ok… BUT, when you are making something that speaks of quality, why use juices that may have been extracted months in advance of your enjoyment, then?

Beats me.  That’s why the fresh juice movement in craft cocktails is so essential to the overall approach to making fresh drinks with the best ingredients you can get. 

I always ask if a cocktail lounge is using fresh juices and if they don’t- I usually don’t stay- or I order something plain.  It’s just that simple, there are no excuses to use less than stellar ingredients.  I’d gladly pay more; just give me the chance to do so!


An Ardent Dreamer
Ingredients:
2 oz. Greenhook Ginsmiths Gin
1 oz. Aperol
½ oz. freshly squeezed orange
½ oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit
¼ oz. freshly squeezed lemon
¼ oz. freshly squeezed lime
Splash of seltzer
Old Fashioned glass
Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters

Preparation:
Add the juices and the Greenhook Gin with the Aperol to a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with ice
Shake hard for 15 seconds or so
Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with a couple cubes of hand cut or hand made ice (silicone tray with double boiled spring water, overnight)
Top with the seltzer and a couple drops of the Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters for a flourish!
 
Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys. His first book, Apothecary Cocktails has been nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Wine for Father’s Day

By Liza B. Zimmerman


Put the order in for the dry-aged, grass-fed beef while you read this. I can’t think of a traditional father who doesn’t love a good steak with a serious red wine. Most of our fathers were born before vegetarianism came into vogue (thank goodness).

Few producers do great, intense and yet soft-and-accessible Cabernet Sauvignons better than the folks in Eastern Washington. L’Ecole 41 is one of the founding fathers of the Walla Walla wine industry and its red wines are divine. It is also a lot of fun to visit—if you want to drive the four to five hours from Seattle or Portland or fly into the local airport in Pasco—as the winery is located in an old school house. Other great Washington producers include Waterbrook (located outside of Walla Walla) and Pepper Bridge.

Another country that has long been producing dynamite Cabernets (among other serious red blends for dad) is South Africa. Warwick’s Cabernet, a relative bargain at under $20, is delicious. Other great producers of Cabernet blends include De Toren Fusion V and Rust en Vrede. The South Africans often add Syrah or Pinotage to their blends, the first of which often lends body while the second frequently muddies the blend.

For the Bon Vivant Father
Stylish fathers love a little Champagne: as does mine who drank Moët at one of my major birthday parties. So get him a little Gosset or an elegant Franciacorta. A little tawny Port is perfect after dinner; Ferreira is a great brand, as are those of Niepoort and many other producers.
For a pre-meal tipple Sherry always fits the bill, maybe with a mound of almonds. Dry Marsala is also super swank, although few people know about it. Scotch and Fernet are always good after-dinner options as well. However it is not likely your father will want a Fernet Branca unless he’s a more than 70-year-old Italian or under 40 and living in San Francisco.

What My Father Would Love
Nothing is like a cold beer on a hot New York day, particularly if you are spending time near the beach in Coney Island as my dad did as a kid. He still runs around in his high tops in the subway going to work but grew up in a very different New York.
He’s really a Gimlet guy. And those only can be made with gin, thanks. The same thing with Martinis: double olives please. He’s a classic gin drinker. Although I have made him try Hendrick’s—which I adore—the same winter I made him walk a mile in the rain and snow to a hipster bar on Avenue B. He would probably also like Citadelle and Arak, which I have spoken of so fondly after many trips to Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries.
But ultimately he’s a Dark and Stormy guy, ideally with dark rum. We love Barbancourt and other intense, but well-balanced, dark rums. His specialty is mixing them with fruit juice in the apartment on 86th Street where I was raised, with copious amounts of lime. It reminds my whole family of incredible times in the Caribbean sitting on porches and enjoying his drinks. I have carried dozens of cases of dark rum across the country for him since I moved to San Francisco: so the TSA always searches my bags. He loves them all. I have also taken him to any number of events, where he frowns on bartenders who don’t know how to make a Dark and Stormy. Good for him and the classics.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hubbery Devrey Cardigan Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

Atxa Vermouth Tinto, Eden Orleans and Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin make for a Negroni of otherworldly flavors and textures.

But first of all, what is a Negroni?  Well, the historic reference for drinking them dates back to the mid-1970’s.  I was on yet another trip to Italy, along with my parents.  It was an upbringing that you cannot read in a book, nor watch on television.  Movies only offer snippets of recreated European travel, so the only way to really understand Europe is to go there and whatever you do, don’t take a tour-bus.  You might as well eat all your meals at Americanized fast food restaurants because to experience Europe you must eat and drink like a European.  Just my opinion.   

My parents never begrudged me the occasional beer or glass of wine either with our meals.  I think they thought that I’d be less likely to abuse alcohol if it was around all the time.  Of all the things I disagree with, in regard to their style of child rearing, this was the only one that made perfect sense. 

To this day I look at Day Drinking as the only time I really enjoy a cocktail.  I suppose it dates back to being in Europe as a boy and drinking every day!

The Negroni was not necessarily something that I would order in a restaurant, but I do remember vividly the first time I saw one.  We were in Rome, staying at the Hotel Hassler at the top of the Spanish Steps.  Lining the steps were cafés, really no more than a couple of stand up tables with stand up guys and their girls sipping vivid red short cocktails.  After a couple of these potent drinks everyone becomes like actors in a Black and White Fellini movie.  That is what Rome represents to me, even to this day.  If you close your eyes when visiting Rome and open them on the Spanish Steps – well, you’ll see what I mean.  The light hasn’t changed although seeing the world in color is much different than in Black and White in the Fellini films.

Back to the Negroni. Count Negroni as legend has it was rather fond of the cocktail known as the Americano (Campari and Vermouth with soda water). Being a nobleman with either a stomach ache or a drinking problem – or both…, he asked his bartender to change the cocktail and remove the fizzy water in favor of a large dose of gin. 

As it turns out to fans of the classics, and with history being my guide, this drink of Campari, Sweet Vermouth and Gin- to present day is still named the Negroni. 

I’m certainly not calling my drink a Negroni, but what I will call it is the Hubbery Devrey Cardigan, named after a character in Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  It’s a silly name for a very grown-up sense of humor, dispensed sip-by-sip. 

In this case on ordering a Negroni, while walking up (or down) the Spanish Steps, your typical combination of Campari, Sweet Vermouth (often of a dubious origin) and gin (is that gin or rockgut?) is poured down the throats of thirsty tourists in bars that line the broad Spanish Steps in Rome. 

May I propose something completely different in this case.  Being someone who is not a Nobleman, well this does create certain difficulties when working with venerable cocktails such as the Negroni.  Please hear me out on this; I think the finish is brilliant and very, very fresh.  And modern.  And fascicle.  Because life is meant to be all things, bitter, sweet and strange. 

I’ve been drinking Spanish Vermouth as of late.  These are brilliant efforts are made with some of the most expressive base wines available from Spain- and only in miniscule quantities.  Spanish Vermouth is certainly a gourmet’s pleasure. 

Atxa Vermouth Tinto is from the Basque Region of Spain.  It is a lovely sipping Vermouth, bursting with flavors of citrus and tobacco.  I love it in a Negroni, especially one of a different stripe like the Hubbery Devrey Cardigan Negroni. 

Next in this philosophically incorrect version of the classic Negroni I’ve included Orleans Bitter Aperitif Cider infused with red currant and bitters, I know already that your ears have perked up and the word bitter may connote something else entirely.  Whatever your idea is about Campari, may I please suggest substituting the Orleans Bitter with red currant and bitter herbs instead? Thank you. 

And now in a tip of the hat to the alchemists who discovered that saffron really is worth muchGabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin as the gin component to this cocktail.  Who can resist something as elegant as gin in a cocktail that is woven it seems from the finest grains and the best saffron that money can pluck from impossibly tiny flowers. Did you say add saffron to a Negroni?  I think so, rabbit. 
more than gold I’m including

The gin element is unmistakable.  You cannot imagine what this drink was like without the deeply mysterious aromatics of exotic saffron coursing through each sip.  The combination of the Orleans Bitter and the Spanish Vermouth along with the saffron infused gin is otherworldly. 

I finish this drink with a splash of Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters.  My thoughts are simple.  Where there is gin, somewhere there should be juice.  Or bitters, or something.  I forget.  I’ll have another please. 

Just make a few and let me know how you enjoy it.
Cheers!

Hubbery Devrey Cardigan
Ingredients:
2 oz. Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin
1.5 oz. Orleans Aperitif Cider infused with red currant and bitters
1.0 oz. Atxa Vermouth Tinto
2-3 dashes Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters
Lemon twist

Preparation:
To a cocktail mixing glass, fill ¾ with bar ice
Add the gin, then the cider, followed by the vermouth
Stir 30 times with a long cocktail spoon
Strain with a Hawthorne Strainer into two coupe glasses
Garnish with lemon twists and dot the top with the grapefruit bitters to finish

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pairing Wine with Turkish Food

By Liza B. Zimmerman

I have spent years teaching, cajoling and generally trying to convince trade and consumers alike with stories that spicy foods don’t have to be paired with beer. There’s often a bias that non-Western food doesn’t work well with wine and it is a completely mistaken one. Most non-European countries make great beer, which is refreshing in the heat, but that is not an excuse to overlook great local, and imported, wine pairings.

Turkish food has long been one of my favorites. I love the freshness of the yogurt in many dishes and can eat eggplant day and night. One of my favorite Turkish restaurants, Tarla based in the City of Napa, has long been a pioneer in serving great, food-friendly wine choices with its food. The list includes many local selections, as both visitors and locals generally have more background and a greater comfort level with these choices. The restaurant also does winemaker dinners with many of the Napa Valley’s producers.

Tarla also serves a handful of Turkish wines, some of them by the glass. It is a shame that we see so few Turkish wines in this country because Turkey makes some beautiful ones, particularly from native varietals such as Kalecik Karasi. Yusuf Topal, the restaurant’s owner and managing partner, admits that Turkish food is not always served with wine, “However that doesn’t mean that we don’t drink it.”

He adds that while culinary traditions vary widely across the country, but most dishes work with a wide range of wines. Pinot Gris-based wines are favorites, he says, in the north of the country and the western coast—with its beaches and Istanbul—are also places that are home to a broad range of international wines.

Some of my favorites with Tarla’s food include some of the more esoteric Italian whites, such as Tasca d’Almerita’s white blend of local Sicilian grapes Inzolia, Grecanico and Catarratto. Other southern pairings might include Catine Terranera’s Falanghina. Not only is a bargain at $12.99, what does this sexy Campanian grape not pair well with? Soaves from the Veneto are also always exceptionally good pairings with somewhat spicy food given their lovely acidity.

A Bit of Red with that Kebab?
When you move onto Turkish main courses, they are deliciously meat-laden with a focus on lamb and beef. They are also usually sprinkled with a touch of sumac, the country’s native pepper- and black fruit-infused spice. So you will want to step up the pairings to red. Topal says that big-bodied wines, made from Merlot, Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon, often go well with grilled meats.

Lebanon makes some divine wines and Chateau Musar’s “Jeune Rouge” is a fantastic example. It is on
Tarla’s list and is an incredible bargain at retail as well. It packs a heady punch of spice and fruit and comes from Turkey’s well-respected neighbor, feeding into the idea of what grows together goes together. Lebanese food has many commonalities with Turkish (but don’t tell my Turkish friends), so the pairing synergies are obvious. Chateau Kefraya is another great Lebanese producer.

Spicy Malbecs from Argentina, such as those from Bodega Catena Zapata, are also great with kebabs and yogurt-topped lamb. Rhône reds would also certainly be a winner.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.
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